October 15, 2008 // Franchising.com // Fort Lauderdale, Fla., - Pizza Fusion (www.pizzafusion.com), pioneer of environmentally-friendly restaurant service and the first ever organic pizza franchise, announced today the appointment of Mark Begelman as CEO to steer the company through an aggressive national franchise expansion. Begelman, former President of Office Depot who was twice named Ernst and Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year" and named Financial News' "CEO of the Year," will oversee Pizza Fusion's growth as the company moves ahead with their plans to open 500 U.S. franchises over the next five years.
"What attracted me most to Pizza Fusion was their menu… it's the best tasting pizza I've ever eaten," Begelman explains. "Pizza Fusion offers delicious food with a purpose." Pizza Fusion is the first and only pizza franchise in America to offer totally organic and fresh food. "To have great food and be socially conscious is great for customers and prospective franchisees alike," Begelman continues. "Pizza Fusion offers a healthy alternative to what has historically been referred to as "junk" food. Pizza Fusion is everything I want my family to embrace. Healthy, delicious, and organic food served by a restaurant that's doing its part to contribute to the preservation of the planet."
Begelman co-founded Office Club in 1986, one of the nation's first big-box office supply retailers and took the company public in 1989 before merging it with Office Depot. Following the merger, Begelman served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Office Depot from 1991 to 1995, during which time, he managed the company from 127 stores at $900 million in revenues to $4.5 billion in revenues with 460 retail locations nationwide; the company's market capitalization grew from $900 million to $5.5 billion. Begelman left Office Depot in 1995, to start what became Mars Music, the fastest growing musical instrument retailer in the country during its time, and grew it to over 52 superstores with over $350 million in revenues. Most recently, Begelman was managing director of Woodbridge Holdings.
At Pizza Fusion, Begelman will oversee the company's franchise development and support systems, as well as direct the company throughout the chain's already aggressive growth with more than 75 franchises in development in 15 states around the country, from California to New Jersey.
Vaughan Lazar, co-founder and former CEO of Pizza Fusion, has transitioned into the role of President, where he'll maintain a key role in the leadership of the company with further developing the restaurants' environmental initiatives, overseeing the chain's marketing and overall culture, and directing Pizza Fusion's philanthropic endeavors.
"Mike, Randy, and I are very pleased to welcome Mark into the Pizza Fusion family," Lazar states. "His demonstrated expertise in growing businesses will be invaluable with upholding the integrity Pizza Fusion was founded upon throughout the rapid expansion ahead of us. Furthermore, his personality and socially conscious lifestyle is a great match with the core values we're so passionate about. We're proud to have Mark as a part of our team."
Pizza Fusion is the only franchise in the world to build all their restaurants to LEED certification standards and mandate third party organic restaurant certification at all their locations. Their restaurants feature a number of unique, eco-efficient products, techniques and designs, such as eliminating the need for water heaters by reusing heat from their ovens to warm their water. Additionally, Pizza Fusion delivers all their food in company owned hybrid vehicles and offsets 100 percent of their power consumption with the purchase of green-e certified renewable wind energy certificates.
Founded in the best interest of the individual and the environment, Pizza Fusion combines a fresh, organic menu with an industry-leading environmental approach to restaurant service in chic LEED certified dining establishments. Pizza Fusion specializes in gourmet pizza, ciabatta sandwiches, salads, desserts, and organic beers and wines all in their purest form - untainted by artificial additives, such as pesticides, preservatives, antibiotics and hormones. With numerous franchises opening across the U.S., Pizza Fusion is well on its way to 'saving the earth, one pizza at a time.' For additional information, visit: www.pizzafusion.com.